Today we have something particularly dark.
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Dead of Night, an urban fantasy, is the first installment of the Ghosts & Magic series, written by M.R. Forbes.
So what's it about?
Conor has a few more problems than the average person. You see, he's dying from cancer, and the treatments that keep him alive are dangerous and expensive... and illegal. In an effort to protect his loving family from the person he's had to become, he has left them and moved in with his new partner in crime, sending whatever money he can back to them so that they can be provided for. Oh, and... did I mention he's a necromancer, as well? In a world of magic, necromancers are considered a nasty blemish to be avoided and distrusted at all costs, causing him to hide this ability from his employers.
While completing his latest job, Conor stumbles onto another one - one that pays enough that he'd be able to pay for his treatments for a long while before having to worry about finding another job. Against his partner's better judgement, he accepts it, and soon becomes tangled within a political upheaval that threatens the ruling Houses, as well as civilization as a whole.
It's definitely worth checking out!
My love of urban fantasy began with Charles De Lint, whose novels take up a rather large chunk of my home library. I've read several different urban fantasies since my infatuation with DeLint began, and I've found works that are both wonderful and awful, with many nestled within the space in between those two categories.
This one found itself on the 'wonderful' end of the scale.
Forbes has taken the science of polar reversal That's the idea that the North and South poles reverse over time... something that happened in the distant past, and slowly continues today. The best practical explanation I can give is to have you look at the difference between North and magnetic North on a compass. They're slightly different! He stretched the concept, manipulating it into the reason why magic suddenly appeared within the world of his book.
Sorry... the geology nerd in me uplifted to the surface, there. It's not my fault!
Ok, ok... I'll stop the puns...it can just be so tuff to stop, sometimes.
Ok, I'm done. For real, this time. ;-)
Anyway, in Dead of Night, Forbes took polar reversal, tweaked it, and produced a vivid environment in which technology and magic combine, giving us a realistic idea of what could happen if magic suddenly sprouted within our own reality. New viruses, fantastic and terrible creatures, power plays more devastating than anything we would see with science alone.
The world is incredibly dark, and life is tenuous.
Trolls, elves, and goblins walk the streets alongside full humans. Werewolves are the products of a disease that transforms people into hairy, unthinking killing machines, rather than the pretty people we see on popular television. Many people escape this terrible reality by plugging into virtual MMORPGs as a way to relieve stress (Think World of Warcraft realistically surrounding you, rather than being on a computer screen).
The world that Forbes created was so intricate, so vivid, that I felt as though I was living in it. I could see the environment. I could smell the corpses. I heard the crackle of lightning. I was transfixed.
Unfortunately, there was one thing that kept me from awarding this brilliant work with Treasured Tome status: emotional disconnect.
There was one particular scene that was emotionally devastating to the protagonist. I should have been drowning in tears, or at least contemplating the idea of throwing my Nook through the window beside me. I should have been wallowing in sadness or rage. Maybe both. It was a pivotal scene. Conor was in tears.
So why wasn't I?
I'm actually not sure. I reread that portion, thinking that perhaps I was distracted, and just didn't realize it. It's possible, after all...
But that wasn't the case. I still felt distant. I wonder if, perhaps, the author emotionally disconnected himself while writing the scene? It was very intense, and there's the possibility that he didn't want to feel so vulnerable.
Or perhaps he altered this scene during editing? It's possible to "clean up" your writing so much that the emotion gets lost in the effort to fix grammatical errors.
I'm not sure.
What I do know, however, is that aside from this feeling of emotional disconnect, the ebook was virtually flawless. It was vivid, high paced, and real. I would definitely recommend this, and I'll be keeping an eye out, waiting for the second installment to be published.
Dead of Night can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd, which is where I got it.